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Getting it done in last at-bat

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Lion pitcher Damian Ruiz tossed seven innings of two-run baseball to pick up the win.Lion pitcher Damian Ruiz tossed seven innings of two-run baseball to pick up the win.

By  Brian Besch

The final inning provided drama and a game-winning hit in Livingston’s Friday night bi-district matchup, as the Lions escaped with a 3-2 victory over Vidor.

With the contest tied 1-1 in the top of the seventh, Vidor took the lead and momentum, starting with a walk and sacrifice bunt. A double brought in the go-ahead run for a 2-1 advantage.

With the bottom of the lineup due in the Lions’ final opportunity, Livingston coach Jarrad Maddox opted for a pinch-hitter. Sophomore Copeland Bush got the call and reached base with an infield single.

Copeland Bush would soon advance on a wild pitch. Jordan Bush took a base on balls and another wild pitch would put both into scoring position with no one out. Tay McNeal was hit by a pitch to load the bases and bring up Gage Morris.

The junior had a good night at the plate, getting Livingston started in the first inning, but his final at-bat will be the one he remembers.

“I was up there and the umpire called the first one high and I didn’t like it,” Morris said. “On the second one, I was kind of chancing it. I had seen curveballs and was looking for a fastball. He threw me that curveball again and I just had to put it in play – just hit it somewhere in play and we have got to score just one. It was right over the second baseman’s head and I knew right then the game was over. I was like, ‘This is it; we are going to the next round.’

The shortstop described the celebration with his teammates at second base.

“I got jumped on, but man, it was great. It felt good. There is a first time for everything and that is my first walk-off hit. That is probably the biggest hit of my life. I was up there excited and nervous at the same time and was like, ‘Just hit it in play,’ and I got it done.”

The Texas Leaguer was a few feet out of the reach of the Pirate second baseman, allowing two to score and setting off the Livingston festivities.

“I knew Vidor had a couple of really good arms. I was very confident in Damian and his ability,” Maddox said. “I just had a hunch and went with Copeland Bush to pinch hit to get on base and use his athletic ability to lead off. It only takes one and we got it.

“Vidor has been hot in the second half of the season; they were the hottest team in their district. They won the most games in their district in the second half of the season. They snuck in and played hot and I knew it was going to be a tough series.”

Those who reached Crosby after the game started likely missed most of the offense until the end of the game. The Pirates put a run on the board in the first frame with a runner on, as a double that bounced to the wall made it 1-0.

Livingston answered in the bottom half of the inning, as the leadoff hitter Morris doubled. A sacrifice grounder by Jordan Huson pushed the runner to third and a single from Josh Smith made it a tie game.

Barring an upset, the next opponent will be the Sealy Tigers. They were second-place finishers of District 24-4A, two games behind champion Bellville.

“We will move on and we are probably playing Sealy,” the coach said.

“We will see where it goes from there. I know that they are very athletic. They don’t have the arms that Vidor does, but they are athletic and it’s going to be another tough matchup.”

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